words_Brandon Richard

With some teams taking their foot off the gas toward the end of the season, it’s not always easy to find must-see match-ups toward the end of the NFL season. However, I fared pretty well last week, with two of the three selections turning out to be pretty good games. The Chicago Bears outlasted the New York Jets in an offensive shootout. New Orleans was able to come up with big plays late to even the season series with Atlanta. Unfortunately, the New York Giants weren’t so competitive in a blowout loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

This week, there are still playoff implications on the line in Seattle and New Orleans. We’ll also say farewell (we think!) to a legend. Take a look at this week’s Top 3 NFL Match-Ups.

Week 17 Top 3 Match-Ups: Rams vs. Seahawks

St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks

This game may not sound too appealing on paper, but it could be considered the first true playoff game of the season. The scenario for both teams is simple – win and you’re in. The Rams of course have the option of tying due to their win against the Seahawks earlier this year, but how likely is that? Not only does the winner advance to the postseason, but they win the NFC West and will HOST a playoff game with a .500 record at best.

No matter how poorly Seattle is playing, making the trip to Qwest Field is always tough. Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, who has played stellar football this year, will have to deal with perhaps the most hostile crowd he’s seen in his young career. He’ll need Steven Jackson to come up with some big runs and alleviate some of the pressure. St. Louis’ defense has also come up big all season, and will be a huge factor in this game.

On the Seattle side of things, you have a team who has struggled to get the run going. Additionally, some uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into the final week. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck is questionable at this point, and Charlie Whitehurst has played awful football in limited appearances. Seattle’s chances may come down to whether or not Hasselbeck can suit up. This playoff-like game is scheduled for Sunday night, so both teams will get center stage to prove they belong in the postseason.

Week 17 Top 3 Match-Ups: Buccaneers vs. Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints

Another Week 17 game where both teams have something to play for. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the most to gain in this game. If they win, they can still get a playoff spot with a lot of help. It’s only a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless. One the line for New Orleans, who clinched a playoff berth with their win over the Falcons on Monday, is a chance at a division title, home field advantage and a First Round Bye. In order to obtain all of that, the Saints need to pair a win over the Buccaneers with an unlikely Atlanta loss to the Carolina Panthers.

The Bucs have struggled to beat elite teams all season long. When they clashed with the Saints in a Week 6 games, they were humiliated 31-6 in their own stadium. However, quarterback Josh Freeman and rookie running back LeGarrette Blount are playing their best football of the season and could spearhead a surprising effort against the defending champions. Worth paying attention to is the fact that this game will be played roughly at the same time as the Falcons/Panthers game, so New Orleans may have some kind of indication of how good their chances are to make a move by halftime.

Week 17 Top 3 Match-Ups: Vikings vs. Lions

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions

Love him or hate him, Brett Lorenzo Favre is one of the best football players to ever don pads on NFL Sunday. While he’s certainly changed his mind about leaving the game in the past, I tend to believe him this year, simply because his body cannot physically withstand another 16 games of pro football. As a matter of fact, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh may put him out of commission early this Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings squares off with Detroit.

Favre hasn’t finished career on the note he hoped, but if there’s a player capable of one more brilliant game at age 97, it’s Brett. That’s why this match-up against a career-long division rival is a must-see. He hasn’t even passed his neurological exam yet, but does anybody believe he’s finishing his career in street clothes?

images via Yahoo